Police officers are charged with upholding the law. The men and women employed by the various law enforcement agencies in the state work to do this by investigating crimes, patrolling the streets and carrying out a wide range of other duties. Unfortunately, sometimes police officers choose to thwart the law rather than uphold it. One such incident is alleged to have occurred in Los Angeles in 2014 and now the two officers involved are facing criminal charges for their actions.
The incident in question occurred two years ago, in October of 2014. Two LAPD officers, Rene Ponce and Irene Gomez, were patrolling the Boyle Heights area when they received a call about a hit and run. The pair went to investigate the scene but according to the prosecutors who filed charges this year, "officers opted not to conduct a drunk driving investigation." The intoxicated driver, who has only been identified as 'Garcia', had apparently hit two parked cars. A witness, 63-year-old Larry Chavez, was awoken by the crash. Chavez and two other neighbors chased and caught up with Garcia and held him until police arrived. According to Chavez, when the police got to the scene, they handcuffed Garcia and put him in the back of their patrol car for about an hour and a half.
It is now alleged that Ponce and Gomez did not follow LAPD policy and have Garcia perform any field sobriety tests prior to putting him in the patrol car. According to the L.A. Times, the officers then did not bring the man into the police station. Rather, they "drove him home to his apartment complex, telling him to sleep." When the officers later filed a report on the incident, they wrote that the driver had fled the scene.
According to KTLA, it is "not clear how the crime was uncovered." But, however the information came to light, the two officers were charged in September of 2016 with a "felony count each of filing a false report and conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public." Both Ponce and Gomez pleaded not guilty to the charges. Gomez's lawyer "denied that his client ferried a drunk driver home and later submitted a false report." In addition, he stated that his client followed the proper protocol in a hit and run case and did not drive Garcia home.
Gomez's attorney also questioned the motivations that the officer would have to cover up the crash, stating "Why would an officer risk her career and potentially her freedom over somebody she doesn't even know?"Gomez had been working for the department for three years, and Ponce thirteen years, at the time the incident occurred. According to the deputy district attorney, neither officer had any prior relationship with Garcia, nor was Garcia "connected to the LAPD or other law enforcement agencies."
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, please do not hesitate to contact the Cobb County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today.